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Coronavirus: This family-owned meat producer lost a "major portion" of customers overnight

Mosner Family Brands EVP Seth Mosner and Mosner Family Brands EVP of Marketing Jessica Mosner join Yahoo Finance’s Zack Guzman to discuss how the coronavirus is impacting their family-run business in New York City.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: We've been highlighting, as we did on yesterday's show, the issues as Tyson Foods looks to reopen their plant in Waterloo, Iowa, after President Trump signed an executive order invoking the Defense Production acts, basically calling the supply of meat in this country essential.

But it's not just big companies like Tyson that's been grappling with this. We'll be chatting right now with another small family-owned meat producer, Mosner Family Brands, the third-generation family-owned meat processor here in New York City. It has about 60 employees and notably suppliers to a very popular restaurant Carbone.

Joining us now is Seth Mosner and Jessica Mosner, executive vice presidents of Mosner Family Brands. And guys, thank you so much for chatting with us. I mean, you guys have been grappling with the same issues we've been highlighting here in terms of how you can actually safely produce meats with workers side by side. How have you guys been doing that? I know you guys are a little bit smaller, and you haven't laid anyone off, which is surprising to hear. So how you been grappling with this?

SETH MOSNER: Well, you know, it's been challenging times for our company. You know, the vast majority of our business on the Mosner side is food service. And because of that, you know, we essentially lost a major proportion of our customer base overnight.

You know, going into this crisis that we're in, we had two main priorities. One was to make sure that we met our unwavering commitment to our employees to keep them employed and support the 60 direct families of the employees who we're privileged to have work for us. And the second one was to kind of pivot and make sure that we had a strategy that was going to, you know, at least replace some of the food-service business that disappeared.

So in light of that, you know, we are finding ourselves a few months into this crisis, you know, doing things from a manufacturing and distribution point-- distribution basis that would have been very odd for us to be doing just a few months ago. But nevertheless, we have been able to create a safe working environment for our employees. They've just been unbelievable, courageous, and dedicated in their-- in their work ethic and their dedication to their communities, by showing up every day and understanding of how-- what an incredible impact that they're having on the world around them just by making sure that the food supply chain continues to be strong.


SETH MOSNER: And, you know, we kind of are-- we're kind of taking it day by day. You know, every day's a little bit different. We're scouring for new opportunities, and so far we've been relatively successful in doing that while still kind of looking forward to the days ahead of normalcy.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah. I imagine it's not easy to shift from supplying restaurants, shifting into a direct-to-consumer model overnight and then having to deal with that. But, Jessica, when we look at it, I mean, you guys are a much smaller family-owned enterprise here. You would you expect to be one of the prime companies that the Paycheck Protection Program is built for when we think about the government trying to provide assistance to companies like yours. I understand that you didn't get funding in the first round of PPP. How has that affected how you been able to maintain the company, as Seth was describing there, and making sure that you can stay afloat when all this is over?

JESSICA MOSNER: Well, yeah. You know, as Seth said, we just quickly pivoted. We knew that we would be eligible for the PPP loans, but we weren't really banking on that, just knowing how things sort of pan out and the process that is involved.

So, you know, kind of hearing as toilet paper was starting to run out and, you know, in our own groceries experiencing, you know, a lot of scarcity on shelving, we literally in 36 hours turned things around, launched a direct-to-consumer website for home delivery, and just, you know, are doing the best that we can to promote that through various channels-- a lot of word of mouth, which has been unbelievable to see how far that reaches.

But we've really been able to send meat, you know, coast to coast, which for us, you know, has been great to feel like we're contributing in any type of a way to the needs of people during this time and also to keep our employees busy and, you know, obviously bring some, you know, cash influx. Since everything is essentially prepaid, that's not usually how we operate as a wholesaler, so.

SETH MOSNER: The other thing that we've done, in addition to launching-- you know, which has really been spearheaded by Jessica directly, our own B2C business-- is we've helped other e-commerce B2C businesses as well as brick-and-mortar B2C business-- you know, what have turned in to be B2C businesses launch and develop and strengthen in a really short time.

So some of our most valued customers who are also distributors to food-service companies like restaurants and corporate cafeterias, stadiums, they've launched their own B2C initiatives. And what we've done is we've really kind of pivoted our manufacturing focus to make sure that we were supply-- we could supply them with products in a format that people are used to receiving in their home. So--

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, I know.

JESSICA MOSNER: More portion cutting.


ZACK GUZMAN: As we've heard--

JESSICA MOSNER: --sizes and things of-- things of that nature.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, it's been important. I mean, as we've heard, even from the highest office in government from the president saying that this is essential for sure.

I've been eyeing the deals you have on your website right now. The 10 pack of New York steaks does look intriguing. But, guys, thank you so much for joining us. Seth Mosner and Jessica Mosner, Mosner--


ZACK GUZMAN: --Family Brands, appreciate it, and good luck out there--


ZACK GUZMAN: --to you both.

SETH MOSNER: Thanks so much.